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National History Day: Rare Books

Use this guide to find primary resources for your National History Day projects.

Rare Book Treasures


 Works of Walt Whitman


Works of Phillis Wheatley


 Works of Louisa May Alcott


Rare Books

The Rare Books Collection has emphasized American literature since 1971 when Harry L. Dalton donated his copy of the first edition of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. In the years since then, the collection has grown to include works by such authors as Phillis Wheatley, James Fenimore Cooper, William Gilmore Simms, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway. In November 1991, Mary Dalton donated a copy of the first edition of Herman Melville's Moby Dick as the library's 500,000th volume.

Using Rare Books

While using rare books, please help us preserve our material by following a few rules:

1. Only use pencil when using Special Collections materials.

2. Request only three items at a time.

3. Handle documents with care by turning pages gently and with caution.

4. Please do not place rare books faced down with pages open on table.

5. Please do not place personal items such as paper/notes books on top of Special Collections materials when taking notes.